Diontae Johnson

Diontae Johnson Activated From Reserve/COVID-19 List

It turns out that the Steelers will have their top pass catcher for Week 18’s game against Baltimore after all. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor (Twitter link).

[Related: Steelers Place Diontae Johnson, Kendrick Green On Reserve/COVID-19 List]

Johnson was placed on the list on Thursday, a move that very much put in doubt his availability for Sunday’s game. Under the NFL’s new COVID-19 protocols, however, players can ‘test out’ in as little as one day, just as Johnson has in this case. It’s a very positive development for Pittsburgh, as the 25-year old has had a career year in 2021 (100 catches, 1110 yards, eight touchdowns). He was arguably the Steelers’ best player in their first game against the Ravens back in Week 13, posting eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

There has been no such activation news for rookie center Kendrick Green, who was also placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, or cornerback Joe Haden, who was added on Wednesday.

The path to the postseason is narrow for Pittsburgh – besides a win on Sunday, they also need a major upset from the Jaguars over the Colts. If Week 18 is to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s final game in the NFL, he will at least head into it with a full complement of receiving threats.

 

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/6/22

Here are the Thursday additions and subtractions from teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Steelers Place Diontae Johnson, Kendrick Green On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Ahead of their season finale against the Ravens on Sunday, the Steelers may be without their top wide receiver and a starter on their offensive line. Diontae Johnson and rookie center Kendrick Green have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala).

Losing Johnson would be a huge blow to Pittsburgh’s passing attack, as he has recorded 100 catches for 1110 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games so far this year. Johnson had a massive game in Week 13 against the Ravens, making eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He would have a good chance of repeating that sort of performance in Week 18, given the beleaguered state of the Ravens’ cornerback room.

Green, a third round pick this past April, has started in all 15 games he has been available for this season. His absence could hinder the improved Steelers’ running game and overall pass protection, which has been a talking point for the team since the beginning of the campaign. Pittsburgh also placed starting corner Joe Haden on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.

The Steelers visit Baltimore on Sunday, needing – just like the Ravens – a victory and help from other AFC results to make it into the postseason.

Injury Notes: Steelers, JPP, Jets, Mailata

After suffering a pectoral injury in Week 2, Ben Roethlisberger is not in jeopardy of missing Week 3. The Steelers will have their 18th-year quarterback against the Bengals. Big Ben returned to full practice Friday. He will not have his top receiver available, however. Although Diontae Johnson‘s late-game injury was not believed to be serious, Mike Tomlin pushed back on the prospect the third-year wideout would quickly surmount his knee problem. The Steelers have declared their leading receiver out for Sunday. The third-year pass catcher has run into myriad injury issues as a pro, missing games or parts of games with several maladies last year. The Steelers have contract-year wideout James Washington set to step in as a full-timer.

Here is the latest from the injury front going into the season’s third Sunday:

  • In addition to being unlikely to have Antonio Brown available, the Buccaneers will be down Jason Pierre-Paul against the Rams. The 11th-year pass rusher will miss Week 3 with hand and shoulder injuries; he did not practice this week. Tampa Bay will be set to use first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka more extensively in L.A.
  • Andre Dillard looks likely to return to the Eagles‘ starting lineup for the first time since November 2019. Recently extended left tackle Jordan Mailata is likely to miss Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. A knee injury is expected to keep the ex-rugby player out of Philly’s lineup, though Garafolo notes the team does not view the setback as serious. Mailata suffered the injury in practice this week, E.J. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds. Dillard missed extensive camp time due to a knee injury and has not played an offensive snap since 2019.
  • The Jets will have Zach Wilson in uniform against the Broncos, but the rookie quarterback is playing through a groin injury. The No. 2 overall pick sustained the injury during the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Panthers, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Wilson practiced fully this week, but Howe adds the BYU product went through an MRI recently. Although Wilson might not be in danger of missing time, this is certainly an issue to monitor.
  • The Packers are likely to be severely shorthanded on their O-line in San Francisco. Elgton Jenkins, who has filled in for PUP list-stationed David Bakhtiari at left tackle, is doubtful to face the 49ers because of an ankle issue. Green Bay will likely be forced to use its third left tackle option against the 49ers, who feature Nick Bosa as their primary blindside rusher. The Packers signed Dennis Kelly this offseason, giving them a potential option at right tackle in the event they slide right-side starter Billy Turner to left tackle.
  • Between their practice squad and active roster, the 49ers have seven running backs. That total balloons to nine if Raheem Mostert (IR) and Jeff Wilson (PUP) are included, and San Francisco’s backfield will be missing more pieces Sunday. Due to injuries sustained in Week 2, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty are respectively doubtful and out for Sunday night’s game. On the bright side, third-round rookie Trey Sermon has cleared concussion protocol. Despite beginning the season as a healthy scratch, Sermon should be expected to start, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets. The 49ers have Trenton Cannon and recent addition Jacques Patrick, an XFL alum the 49ers added off the Bengals’ practice squad, on their active roster and Kerryon Johnson and Josh Hokit on their practice squad.

AFC Rumors: Enunwa, Steelers, Harris

Quincy Enunwa missed all of the 2017 season and 15 games last year because of a neck injury, and the Jets have ruled him out for the 2020 campaign by placing him on the reserve/PUP list. While the veteran wideout will only turn 28 Sunday, he already faces the prospect of his career being over. Enunwa, however, is not conceding that yet.

If I’m capable of playing, then that’s what I’ll do,” Enunwa said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “If it comes down to the fact that the doctors say I can’t, there’s not much I can do. There’s really nothing I can do there, but if I have the ability to [play], the passion will always be there, the want-to will always be there.”

Enunwa signed a four-year, $33.4MM extension in December 2018. That deal included $20MM in guarantees, which have become crucial for the embattled receiver. The former sixth-round pick will earn $6MM in base salary this year and has a $4.1MM injury guarantee for 2021. Despite the Jets fining him $27K for missing two rehab sessions last year, Enunwa would like to stay with the team for the remainder of his career. It is unlikely, however, Enunwa — drafted two regimes ago — will be with the Jets in 2021. They can save $6MM by releasing him after this season.

I’m under contract. I want to be a Jet for life,” Enunwa said. “I saw Eli Manning say something. On his Twitter page he wrote, ‘Once a Giant, always a Giant, only a Giant.’ It would be cool to say that as a Jet.”

Here is the latest from the AFC, shifting first to Pittsburgh:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has progressed to the point he would have been ready to fully participate in Steelers OTAs, had those been non-virtual endeavors, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Roethlisberger threw with teammates recently and appears on track for Pittsburgh’s training camp. This would be big news for a team that did not address its quarterback situation this offseason.
  • One of Big Ben’s top targets underwent surgery earlier this offseason. Diontae Johnson went under the knife for a core muscle injury in February, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes. Johnson said he suffered the injury in Week 2. That did not deter him from leading all rookie wideouts with 59 catches — while posting 680 yards and five touchdowns — for a team that played most of the season two backup quarterbacks. Johnson hopes to be medically cleared within days, Fittipaldo adds.
  • Chris Harris confirmed he will play a familiar role with the Chargers. The ex-Broncos standout will play both outside and in the slot, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (on Twitter). While Harris played mostly on the outside in 2019, he earned All-Decade acclaim by playing both roles during his previous Broncos seasons. With Casey Hayward and Desmond King in the fold, the Bolts figure to have considerable versatility in their Derwin James-led secondary this season.

AFC North Rumors: Garrett, Glenn, Steelers

While different accounts have surfaced about how the brawl started, the NFL has issued final rulings on the central cogs in the Browns-Steelers melee. One interesting fallout item: Myles Garrett‘s appeal being denied will leave him on his own for a while. The Browns are not permitted to communicate with the star defensive end during his suspension, Freddie Kitchens confirmed (via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, on Twitter). This sort of banishment is usually associated with players battling bans for off-field conduct, but Garrett’s case is certainly unique. This could prove interesting if the Browns make Kitchens a one-and-done coach. Garrett would not be permitted to discuss a new scheme with the team. With NFL appeals officer James Thrash denying the former No. 1 overall pick’s case at avoiding an indefinite suspension, Garrett must apply for reinstatement in the 2020 offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Cordy Glenn will not only make his 2019 debut Sunday, but the Bengals are preparing to slot the eighth-year back in as their left tackle starter, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. This will be a pivotal stretch for Glenn, who battled a concussion for several weeks before a contentious period with the Bengals resulted in the 30-year-old lineman’s one-game suspension. The Bengals were ready to shift Glenn to left guard, making room for first-rounder Jonah Williams, but the latter’s offseason injury nixed that. Glenn, who will replace John Jerry at left tackle, has no guaranteed money left on his deal. The Bills extension he signed in 2016 runs through 2020, but the Bengals could save $9.25MM by releasing him next year.
  • A.J. Green will not join Glenn in uniform against the Steelers. The ninth-year wideout will miss his 11th game of the season and 15th straight. Green is looking at a missed season and is set to profile as one of the more interesting free agents in recent years. The 31-year-old receiver has not practice since Nov. 4.
  • The Steelers have officially ruled out JuJu Smith-Schuster out for Week 12, but the team did see quick progress from fellow wideout starter Diontae Johnson. The rookie cleared concussion protocol and is not listed on Pittsburgh’s injury report. He and James Washington will go into Cincinnati as Mason Rudolph‘s top targets.
  • Admitting the team gambled by not taking Lamar Jackson with its first 2018 draft pick, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta discussed the process that led them to draft the MVP candidate at No. 32 overall last year.

North Notes: Steelers, Burnett, Lions

If you’ve missed the latest Thursday-night game, injuries have limited the Steelers. Pittsburgh lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner; the former suffered a concussion and the latter re-injured the AC joint that sidelined him for the past two games. Both are out for the rest of the Browns game, as are cornerback Artie Burns and wideout Diontae Johnson (due to a knee injury and a concussion, respectively). This is Smith-Schuster’s third known concussion since coming into the league. He suffered two as a rookie in 2017.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Both of the Browns‘ starting safeties are out of tonight’s game. Shortly before Damarious Randall was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit, the Browns lost Morgan Burnett. The ex-Packers and Steelers defender suffered what the Browns fear is a significant Achilles injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). After being relegated to a part-time role in his one Pittsburgh season, Burnett has been a full-time starter in Cleveland.
  • The NFL is looking into the Lions‘ handling of Matthew Stafford‘s back injury, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes. Multiple Lions players were informed Saturday that Stafford would not play, but Detroit had called the quarterback a game-time decision. Stafford has been playing through back pain all season. The league requires teams to update their injury reports if it has been decided, prior to a team’s stadium arrival, a player will not play.
  • With Michael Pierce battling an injury, the Ravens bolstered their defensive tackle corps with two veteransDomata Peko and Justin Ellis.

AFC Notes: McLaurin, Bolts, Steelers, Roby

Had the Raiders not traded for Antonio Brown (or had they known he wouldn’t last the summer with them), Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes they would have “definitely” drafted a wide receiver early (subscription required). The Raiders did not take a wideout until Hunter Renfrow in Round 5, but Tafur adds they were “in love” with Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin. Washington nabbed McLaurin in Round 3, and he’s quickly risen to the role of the team’s top aerial threat. In adding Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant, Oakland went the veteran route to patch up its receiver needs. It seems a good bet the Raiders will look to bring more rookie help at this position in 2020.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • It looks like the Chargers will be without their kicker for a third straight week. Los Angeles has listed Michael Badgley as doubtful to face the Texans. This will point to a third Ty Long kicking assignment. After being named AFC special teams player of the week in Week 1, the Bolts’ punter missed two field goals in their loss to the Lions.
  • When the Chargers face the Texans, they will see a reconfigured cornerback corps. After spending five years as a boundary corner with the Broncos, Bradley Roby is now the Texans’ slot defender. The Texans cut slot incumbent Aaron Colvin after Week 1 and have moved second-round pick Lonnie Johnson into the starting lineup at outside corner, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Houston gave Roby a one-year, $10MM deal. This slot assignment now serves as a critical component in another Roby contract year.
  • As Mason Rudolph makes his first start, the Steelers are going with their younger receivers. Pittsburgh’s Week 2 benching of Donte Moncrief will continue into Week 3, with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic indicating James Washington and rookie Diontae Johnson will play ahead of the underperforming veteran against the 49ers (subscription required). Washington and Johnson will primarily play on the outside, with JuJu Smith-Schuster manning the slot. Given a two-year, $9MM deal, Moncrief has dropped five passes through two games.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/8/19

More draft choices put pen to paper on Wednesday. Here is the latest on the pick-signing front:

  • After signing two sixth-round picks on Tuesday, the Steelers checked a few more items off their offseason checklist by signing three more draftees. Third-round wide receiver Diontae Johnson signed the standard four-year rookie contract. Both fourth-round running back Benny Snell and seventh-round offensive lineman Derwin Gray signed as well. Johnson will be the player likely tasked with making the earliest impact, considering the Steelers lost arguably the greatest wideout in franchise history. Johnson will join Donte Moncrief as the new receivers tasked with helping the team replace Antonio Brown.
  • The Dolphins signed both of their seventh-round picks — fullback Chandler Cox and running back Myles Gaskin — on Wednesday. Gaskin, the No. 234 overall pick, succeeded Saquon Barkley at Penn State. Despite his late draft slot, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets he is the frontrunner to become Miami’s No. 3 back.